We’re all concerned about sugar consumption, and we all know how harmful it is in our diet, but often we feel lost when we have to find an alternative to give a sweet touch to our dishes, cakes or recipes.
Of course it’s much better to use cane sugar, but… what if we could choose another way to sweeten our dishes? Let’s have a look.
Yes to natural sweeteners, no to sugar.
There are lots of ways of doing it, and now we’re going to tell you some of them. It isn’t a matter of counting calories or of looking for light products, but of alternatives to give all the flavour of sugar without having to actually use it.
- Honey: its nutritional value and its benefits make it the perfect candidate to use as a sugar substitute. We all know that it’s also a food supplement that enriches herbal teas and drinks with its flavour.
- Stevia: you can grow it at home and use a couple of leaves to replace sugar in herbal teas. It has a very distinctive flavour, and a lot of people don’t like it. It’s an option we’d recommend in herbal teas and the like, but we wouldn’t use it to make a cake or a dessert. Its flavour would change the taste of the whole recipe.
- Panela: many people don’t know that panela is a product derived from the evaporation of sugar cane juices. It is widely-used in Latin America and, like honey, natural benefits are attributed to it, including being balsamic and an expectorant. It is also a natural source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper and iron, among others.
- Molasses: this is also made from sugar cane, and in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world it is called “cane honey” because its colour and texture recall honey.
- Agave: this is extracted from a type of cactus, has a similar texture to honey and is mild and sweet. It can be used in the same way as you would honey. You can use it to sweeten herbal teas, juices, shakes and many other recipes.
- Coconut sugar: this is very similar to cane sugar or brown sugar.
As we’ve already said, these sweeteners are perfect in coffee, teas of all kinds, cakes and recipes in general. But now we’re going to go a step further.
What can we use when we’re cooking, that can in itself be an ingredient in the recipe?
There are a host of alternatives and ingredients we can use to add flavour and sweetness to our dishes, though we don’t always realise the importance of each of the ingredients that go into a dish. Perhaps if we tried harder at making recipes we could achieve the same – or a better – result with less.
Having said that, we’re going to list some ingredients that can enrich all our dishes.
- Figs: 50% of their content is sugar, and they were used well before sugar was known.
- Raisins: these can be used in any dish, including in stews and many other recipes. They give your dish a delicate, distinctive flavour.
- Another of the ingredients you can use thanks to its versatility is the date. These can be used to make both sweet and savoury recipes. You can use them to sweeten drinks. Also, if you leave them to soak and then whizz them up with water, you can make a syrup to help you sweeten uncooked desserts. This means they can be a sweet alternative in your larder. You can use new Date Cream with Almonds to sweeten your morning coffee, the kids’ morning plant-based milk drink or even to make pancakes, raw cakes or biscuits. Want more ideas? Click here. Remember that date paste is a source of natural sugars and you should therefore use it in moderation.